The Dharavi project is an attempt to give back to the society what our group has received from the society itself: Gotam Adani


Former heavyweight world boxing champion Mike Tyson was particularly keen to visit two places in India at one point of time in his lifetime, Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani said after winning the bid for the Dharavi redevelopment project. One Taj Mahal and the other Dharavi. I had my first encounter with Dharavi, which is recognized as the world’s largest slum, in the late 70s when, like all the youth of the country, I too set foot in Mumbai with the dream of doing something in life. It was during that period of turmoil that I came in contact with Dharavi as well. A residential area where hordes of humans constantly struggle to keep themselves and their dreams alive while living in extremely inhumane and hostile conditions. The people living here will get the answer to your question immediately in any language of the country, but when will they get cleanliness, pure water and clean air here, they did not get the answer for decades.

This reality of Dharavi has always inspired and troubled me. Actually, it was a great opportunity to get acquainted with the ground truth of life. The extent to which human life can struggle to save and improve its existence while passing through the difficulties, troubles and difficulties, it can be easily known by passing through the streets of Dharavi. Dharavi is famous in the world but not in a positive way but in a negative way. It is a matter of shame for us to be called the biggest slum in the world. The government and the able-bodied sections of the society must together take the responsibility of rescuing the people who are living a difficult life there, this idea used to ring like a hammer in my mind every time I was getting off the plane at the Mumbai airport.

But when and how? To find the answer to this question seemed like failure. The country will keep on achieving new heights of progress and the situation in Dharavi will keep getting worse and worse? Will these lakhs of families be forced to live such a difficult life? Will human dignity be limited to dreams? When the time came to answer all such questions, we took the step without any hesitation. As soon as the government presented the program for the rejuvenation of Dharavi, we won the project by bidding much more than others, as a result of our strong attachment to Mumbai and decades of uneasiness about the condition of the area. This is not just a business project for us, but much more than that. To be honest, through this it is a humble attempt to return to the society everything that our group has received from the society in the past decades.

Through this rehabilitation programme, a new chapter of sensitivity of the country is starting. This is a historic opportunity for all of us to build a new Dharavi with human dignity, security and inclusiveness through our determination and efforts. As we embark on this journey of a completely unknown but well defined goal, we are fully aware of the enormous challenges that lie ahead. Some compare the project to the trailblazing project that solved Singapore’s housing crisis in the 1960s.

Dharavi is a unique project in itself for three reasons.

First of all, it is one of the largest urban rehabilitation and regeneration projects in the world. About one million people are to be rehabilitated in this. One million is not even the population of all the important cities of the world. Second, during this period, not only residential units but also different commercial establishments of different sizes and scales will be rehabilitated. The whole environment and business fabric of all the businesses going on for livelihood in Dharavi will be organized, so that they can live life with better opportunities and means. Thirdly, the project will aim for comprehensive and holistic redevelopment because It will cater to the housing and rehabilitation needs of both eligible and ineligible residents.

We will build a world-class suburb that serves as an example and an inspiration for generations to come. The world will be able to realize that the 21st century is India’s century through this project. We will endeavor to create an institutional mechanism that seamlessly integrates the sentiments of not only the people of Dharavi, but of every Mumbaikar known for his boundless ingenuity and vitality, into this journey of Dharavi’s transformation. The new Dharavi will reflect the quintessential Mumbai character – spirit, grit, unity, diversity, color and determination – without destroying the originality and sense of togetherness of the old Dharavi.

We are starting to holistically organize both life and career in Dharavi. It is my personal commitment that we will provide Dharavi residents with what they do not have in their homes today – gas, water, electricity, sanitation and drainage, health care and recreational facilities, and open space. We will also make arrangements for both a world-class hospital and school for the residents of Dharavi. Dharavi residents will be shifted from their old homes only when alternative living arrangements are ready for them. Right now the Dharavi which used to force you to put a handkerchief on your nose as soon as you enter the streets will disappear as a part of the past, in its place a new Dharavi will be born which will hum proudly.

After our work is done, if Mike Tyson visits Dharavi again, he will not recognize the Dharavi he had seen earlier. But I am sure they will find the spirit of Dharavi still as alive as ever. God willing, people like Danny Boyle will find out that New Dharavi is producing millionaires without being called a slumdog. For those who doubt our trust, these lines of famous poet Dushyant Kumar on behalf of all Indians:

Who says there can’t be a hole in the sky, friends, at least throw a stone with caution. (The author is the chairman of Adani Group.)


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